Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in clothing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Rich Rodriguez, Founder of Masaya Store, located in Long Beach, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
MASAYA is a retail shop in Long Beach, CA, offering a curated collection of clothing, accessories, homewares, and gifts from independent brands. We also host events, workshops, and pop-ups for the community and have had everything from fine art, natural juice, floral bouquets, wood crafts, and even Filipino desserts!
Masaya means "happy, joyful" in Tagalog (I'm Filipino American), and I chose the word to honor the spirit of the Filipino people. The word also reflects our greater mission as a lifestyle brand: to bring joy to people's everyday lives through the everyday things we sell. There's something about putting on a beautifully made shirt that can make you feel good. A shirt is something we all have, but when it fits you well and is made responsibly with high quality, ethically sourced materials, and features a striking design, it can make an everyday moment feel special. The same goes for the accessories, planters, stationery, and other goods we sell. My favorite moments are when people walk by the store or come for an event, step inside, take in the colorful walls, hear the music, try on something, and tell me the experience made them feel so good. That's MASAYA.
Our customer is someone who is curious about life and lives intentionally. They seek out moments of joy and inspiration every day through color, design, music, texture, and scent. Connection through community is also really important to our customers, whether it's at our in-store events or online.
Tell us about yourself
What motivates me are the moments I mentioned. Many of us go through each day on auto-pilot, so to affect people enough to have them stop in their tracks or in mid-scroll because they saw or heard something that moved them -- an eye-catching window display, the curated music playlist, the smell of deliciousness from food pop up, a lush image on Instagram -- is exciting to me.
I had the idea to open a shop back in the early aughts when I was living in Brooklyn, New York. There was something about having my own space where I could be my most creative self, meet new people and build a community, and curate my own collection of goods that stayed with me. I would even visualize opening the door to the shop to start the day! I worked out a business plan at the time, but unfortunately, I was never able to get it off the ground.
When my husband and I moved to Long Beach in 2014, we fell in love with the city for a lot of reasons, and one was the number of small, independent shops selling unique goods. I got to know some of the local business owners and began talking to them about their experiences and letting them into my dream. By the end of 2019, I began to form the idea for the shop, and it finally opened in May 2022.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Opening the doors after almost 20 years of dreaming!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Having to be the owner, salesperson, merchandiser, PR and social media manager, stock person, cleaning crew, and everything else.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Reach out and surround yourself with experts who can advise you on the different aspects of starting and running a business. Their advice can be crucial when you're trying to problem solve. You really cannot do it alone, and it's actually more fun when you get to work with people you like!
- Understand the financials of your business inside and out, so you know when it's better to hold steady, think about growth, change course, or leave the day job if you have one.
- Have a business plan. It's less about having a plan written in stone (things will change starting Day 1) but more about putting some thought into every aspect of the business and having a "north star" to guide the business into the future.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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